Tick-Talk Tuesday #6 – comments on online purchases

Tick-Talk Tuesday is all about the letters and comments I have received from you, the reader, concerning your clocks, issues you might have had and challenges you face and my responses to your questions with advice on your  particular clock concern(s). If I am stumped, I consult within my clock circles for the best possible answer.

I wrote a blog article offering advice for online purchases which you can see here.

Summarizing my advice for online shoppers;

  • Check the dates on the listings. The longer they are listed the more the seller is inclined to sell for a better price.
  • Meeting the same day is crucial; you do not want the seller to get cold feet and you do not want someone coming before you to buy the clock.
  • Cash is the rule. No cheques!
  • If you cannot negotiate a final price by email suggest talking it over on the phone
  • Be courteous and polite at all stages of the deal
Unknown French clock
Unmarked French clock, Kijiji purchase

JC writes, “Very good advice overall. I have only one small issue: I think asking about dates (how old is it?) is kind of pointless. I’ve seen clock-makers who have been in business for decades (30+ years) who can’t even correctly date a clock to within 100 years. I’m thinking of a specific example of a well known clock-maker who was explaining a repair on a comtoise clock “from the early 1700s”. The clock was actually from around 1840. I find that this sort of mis-dating happens often, and even with so called experts. Another example I can give you is a Black Forest clock specialist who had a particular clock he was demonstrating in a video, also apparently also “early 1700s” with wooden wheels, but it had an original coiled gong strike inside. The earliest evidence of coiled spiral gongs only date back to as early as maybe 1820-1830. Before this they simply just didn’t exist yet. This was from an EXPERT collector. Someone who specializes in Black Forest clocks. Some of his clocks are worth 5 figures.

That said, I would not trust the word of any eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji, or even auction house seller.

As far as your little clock goes, I think it was an absolute STEAL! True, the strike side could potentially have major problems, but even as a timepiece, the marble is gorgeous. With the price of shipping these days, it was an especially nice find. I haven’t been too lucky finding clocks locally. I think I’ve only bought a small handful, and they tend to be anniversary clocks, and mass produced American clocks (gingerbreads and mantle clocks) with a few German Art Deco style clocks.

I’ve bought a *LOT* of my clocks online (eBay) and for 95% of them, I just went with photos. If the photos were not good enough, I’d pass. It has largely worked out for me, but I ALWAYS assume they will not work. There is only ONE clock that arrived in pristine working condition.

Rare Ingraham Huron found on a local online for-sale site
Rare Ingraham Huron found on a local online for-sale site
Ansonia drop octagon
Ansonia drop octagon, Kijiji purchase

My response to JC . “A good point JC and one that I will consider. The answer I usually get when I ask about the age of the clock is how long the seller has had it. If they say they’ve had it for years or it was their mothers, uncles etc. I am naturally much more interested than someone who is just selling the clock for quick cash. I have acquired some great clocks that have been passed down through family (see photos on this blog). They are not without issues but sometimes the story is just as exciting as the clock itself.

I get most of my clocks from online local for-sale sites that I can pick up within an hour or two from where I live. I scour the sites everyday and will sometimes send out emails to sellers without seriously considering a purchase but occasionally their reply piques my interest. I have had one very bad experience with an EBay clock purchase so I try to stay away from them (not saying I wouldn’t in the future).

Read the article and tell me if you agree.


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